Widener Alumnus Receives Prestigious Award

Former Rafer Johnson Upsilon Achievement Award recipient, Widener alumnus, and recent Ph.D. graduate J. Daniel Griffin (pictured above) was recently awarded the Argersinger Award for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics from the University of Kansas. IHQ Staffer Jon Cockerham had a chance to speak with Brother Griffin to talk about his recent academic and professional success.

JC: Starting off, can you tell me a little bit about your research, and what inspired you to take that route?

DG: My background is in Biomedical Engineering and my research has been primarily centered around antigen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT) for treating autoimmune diseases. I was inspired to take this route after my time at Widener thanks to a professor named Dr. Patil; he taught me the importance of doing research for the sake of what it could mean for the patients that really need it.

JC: How did you get involved with Pilam during your time as an undergraduate?

DG: I initially came to college and had no interest in joining a fraternity; I was there for an education and that is what my focus was going to be. I joined the university’s rugby team during the fall semester of my freshman year and it wasn’t long before I realized that 75% of the team was, coincidently, all brothers of Pilam. They never actively tried to recruit me, but rather they would subtly ask me to hang out with them. I decided to rush the following spring semester when I realized how these brothers were using their experience to supplement their education rather than detract from it.

JC: What surprised you about your fraternal experience?

DG: Being a part of Pilam taught me the importance of group synergy. I did not expect to join a fraternity, or to become Rex and Archon; I equally didn’t expect to learn transferable professional skills such as management and delegation. These came in handy later on, specifically through graduate school.

JC: How did your time in Pilam at Widener impact your educational and professional development?

DG: One key lesson that still guides me today is FRACK; follow instructions, respect authority, always be a gentleman, have the courage to follow your convictions, and keep the secrets. Living out the mindset of FRACK is what helped guide me through graduate school because it is somewhat counter-cultural; specifically, in the science community, we are always about disproving hypotheses, which can make for an adversarial environment. Principles like FRACK emphasize the importance of showing honor and working towards a common goal no matter what the specific situation might look like. My time in Pilam gave me a head start on this mindset and showed me the importance of maintaining a structured environment.

During my time on the executive board, I relied heavily on Ian Lowe (current Executive Director) for guidance. Ian was always very intentional on the values of Pi Lambda Phi, specifically on how to always be a gentleman. He engraved on us the importance of pushing value-based recruitment and was very intentional with the fraternity’s values. Another key lesson was the importance of the art of delegation. Learning that it takes more than one person to run an organization if it is going to be successful is a principle that did not come easy to me.

JC: Is there anything that you would like to add?

DG: I am truly the man that I am today because of the mentorship and investment of people like Dr. Patil, Ian Lowe, and my fraternity brothers from Widener. I am forever grateful for the lessons that they have taught me.